Film Schools

This list includes some of the best schools in the U.S. for film and television production. The descriptions below are from the schools themselves.


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The American Film Institute
P.O. Box 27999/ 2021 North Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Fax: 213.467.4578

First and foremost, AFI's Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies is a Conservatory, similar to European art and music conservatories, where leading artists mentor rising talents. The MFA and MA programs focus solely on teaching the art of the moving image and training better storytellers. The willingness to experiment and to push the boundaries of storytelling has been a vital component of the Center since 1969.

Education and Training Programs at AFI offer emerging artists the opportunity to learn from the most talented people working in cinema, television and the digital arts. AFI's Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies (CAFTS) is a two year production based Conservatory offering Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees in six disciplines. CAFTS also offers a one-year Master of Arts (MA) degree in Digital Media Studies.

The Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies provides a unique curriculum, offering a two-year Master of Fine Arts program in six disciplines and a one-year Master of Arts degree in Digital Media Studies. The programs are hands-on and production-based, creating a rigorous academic environment that closely parallels the challenges of real-world production.

The production facilities include state of the art 16mm film equipment, digital television production and editing equipment, sound stages, mixing rooms, and elaborate computer facilities.

Alumni: David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Jeremy Paul Kagan, Paul Schrader, Amy Heckerling, Tim Junter, Ed Zwick, Marty Brest.

Cinematography Alumni:

Caleb Deschanel, ASC ('69)
Hope Floats, Fly Away Home, Crusoe (dir.), The Natural, The Black Stallion, The Right Stuff, Being There
Frederick Elmes, ASC ('72)
The Ice Storm, In The Gloaming, Night On Earth, Wild At Heart, River's Edge, Blue Velvet, Eraserhead
Janusz Kaminski, ASC ('87)
Amistad, The Lost World, Jerry Maguire, How To Make an American Quilt, Schindler's List
Robert Richardson, ASC ('79)
The Horse Whisperer, U-Turn, Nixon, Salvador, Casino, Natural Born Killers, A Few Good Men, JFK, City of Hope, Born on the Fourth of July, Talk Radio, Platoon
Juan Ruiz-Anchia, ASC ('79)
Death In Granada, The Adventures Of Pinocchio, The Jungle Book, Glengarry Glen Ross, House of Games, At Close Range

American University
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American University
School of Communication
American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
202-885-2019 (fax)

Situated within the northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., American University’s film program is one of the first in the country.  Begun nearly forty years ago, it is ranked in the top 12 by Hollywood Reporter which called the program a "good investment for aspiring industry players of all types with strong, socially active documentary studies. . . ideal for: politically active storytellers".  The program has links to international partners and programs offered through embassies in Washington, DC as well as a summer program in Los Angeles that helps narrative story-tellers transition into the entertainment industry.

American University School of Communication offers an M.A. in Film and Video, an M.F.A. in Film and Electronic Media, and an M.A. in Producing for Film and Video which is a weekend program, designed specifically for working professionals.  The school specializes in documentary, narrative, and environmental filmmaking and is home to two nonprofit organizations, the Center for Environmental Filmmaking and the Center for Social Media

California Institute of the Arts
[ http://www. ]

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California Institute of the Arts
24700 McBean Parkway
Valencia, CA 91355


Founded in 1961 by Walt Disney, Cal Arts offers degree programs in film and video production with emphasis on individualized courses of study. The school specializes in study of both character and experimental animation. Faculty consist of practicing visual and performing artists and there are extensive media internship opportunities.

Facilities: Film screening room, editing suite, sound mixing room, sound stage, computer animation laboratories, motion control camera, optical printer, animation stand, film library.

Alumni: Tim Burton, John Lassiter, Michael Pressman, Michael Patterson.

Columbia University School of the Arts
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Columbia University School of the Arts
New York, NY 10027


A member of the Ivy League, undergraduates focus on film theory and criticism, while the graduate program is production-oriented. Film Division facilities, equipment, and library materials are reserved primarily for the use of registered MFA candidates.

First-year projects are shot in video, second-year projects are shot in video or film, and most thesis projects are shot in 16mm film.

Facilities: The facilities of the Division include camera and sound packages for 16mm production, 16mm editing facilities, VHS camcorders, VHS and 3/4" video editing equipment, lighting and grip equipment, and a screenwriting facility equipped with Macintosh computers.

Alumni: David Brown, Kathryn Bigelow, Malia Scotch-Marmo, Joe Minion.

North Carolina School of the Arts
[School of the Arts: ]
[ School of Filmmaking: ]

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The North Carolina School of the Arts
School of Filmmaking
1533 South Main Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27127-2188
336.770.1330 (voice) 336.770.1339 (fax)

The School of Filmmaking trains exceptionally talented students for professional careers in the moving image arts. This program stresses the collaborative creative process of filmmaking. The program does not seek to train professionals as specialists in one facet or another of the filmmaking arts and sciences. It does, however, seek to develop and nurture the complete filmmaker— a storyteller of vision and insight who knows and appreciates the entire spectrum of components that are essential to the creation of a theatrical motion picture. The intense conservatory training concentrates on screenwriting, directing, cinematography, editing and sound, producing, and production design. Students are expected to have or to develop a strong base in liberal arts and sciences with intensive course work in screenwriting, film production and producing, directing, film history, film theory and film criticism. The School of Filmmaking works closely with the Schools of Drama, Design & Production, Music, Dance and the Visual Arts Program as essential contributors to the filmmaking process.

The faculty of the School of Filmmaking consists of working professionals from the motion picture and television industry. The relationship between faculty and students is one of "master-apprentice" involving close collaboration in all aspects of the development, production and exhibition of motion pictures. Students work in both video and film producing several productions of varying length over the course of their studies. The Bachelor of Fine Arts is awarded to those students who satisfactorily fulfill the requirements of the program.

Dale Pollock, Dean
Gerald Paonessa, Assistant Dean, Production
Steven L. Jones, Assistant Dean, Instruction

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New York University
70 Washington Square South
New York, New York 10012

The Tisch School of the Arts, founded in 1965, provides undergraduate and graduate training in aspects of the performing and visual arts. Departments and programs offering professional training are acting, dance, design, drama, performance studies, film and television, cinema studies, photography, dramatic writing, musical theatre, and interactive telecommunications. Degrees offered are the BFA, MFA, MPS, and, through the Graduate School of Arts and Science, the MA and PhD.

Introduction: The film program is recognized internationally as the premier training site for professionals in film, television and radio. Students are required to perform in all crew positions (director, cinematographer, editor, etc.) as they produce works that are reviewed and evaluated by faculty and fellow students. Films are owned by the students who created them.

BFA Program: Undergraduates are provided with a variety of creative experiences in the conceptual and production phases, and intensive coursework is offered in directing, producing, writing and acting, as well as in the craft and technical skills of film editing, video post-production and sound mixing. In addition, students are encouraged to experience the full range of artistic expression by taking courses in other departments of the Tisch School, as well as at the College of Arts and Science. Fewer than 300 of the more than 1,000 applicants are admitted into the undergraduate program, leading to the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

MFA Program: Graduate students develop their creative talent through actual production experience and learn about business procedures used in the profession. The program culminates with production of a thesis film in the form of a dramatic short or documentary. Fewer than 40 of the more than 800 applicants are admitted to the three-year graduate program, leading to the Master of Fine Arts degree.

State-of-the-art facilities include 60 editing rooms, 25 film and video screening rooms and theaters, animation studios, a cinema studies archive, broadcast-quality television studios, three film soundstages, and the University radio station, WNYU-FM.

Alumni: Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Joel Coen, Martin Brest, Susan Seidelman, Joel Silver, Amy Heckerling, Chris Columbus, Billy Crystal.
San Franciso State University

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San Francisco State University
Cinema Department
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132
415-338-1629 (voice)
415-338-0906 (FAX)

The Cinema Department at San Francisco State University was founded amid the political activism and artistic experimentation of the 1960's. Today, as then, the Cinema Department is committed to a curriculum which recognizes cinema to be an independent, powerful and unique medium in the world. Cinema programs combine theory and practice; students are encouraged to engage in scholarship and to pursue production in all forms of cinematic expression.

The goal of undergraduate instruction in the Cinema Department is to foster creative, critical and independent endeavor as part of a liberal arts education. Students in the B.A. program study film history, film theory and critical studies alongside screenwriting and production.

A specialized animation curriculum provides students with a foundation in the processes involved in developing animated films from initial planning through shooting and post-production. Students work in a variety of techniques, including cel, model, computer and effects animation. Advanced animation study can emphasize either film animation or computer animation.

The M.A. in Cinema Studies enables students to pursue research and writing in selected areas of film scholarship. The M.F.A. in Cinema provides students with rigorous, professional training in cinema production in conjunction with an understanding of film history, theory and aesthetics. M.F.A. students explore current and emerging cinema technologies and are encouraged to develop new modes of expression; this program also prepares filmmakers who wish to teach cinema at the college or university level.

The Cinema Department is housed in one of the most comprehensive and modern production facilities in Northern California. The state-of-the-art facility includes the 150-seat August Coppola Theatre, a 2500 square-foot shooting stage, editing and post-production areas for both analog and digital media, sound recording and mixing studios with digital audio workstations, an animation studio with film and computer workstations, an on-line digital cinema lab and a cinema studies center.

SFSU cinema graduates often work as independent film producers or in varying capacities within the film industry &emdash; as producers, directors, cinematographers, sound or picture editors, screenwriters, sound recordists and mixers, animators, and multimedia artists. Many B.A. graduates continue with advanced studies in either production or theory/criticism. In particular, the M.A. prepares graduates to work in areas of applied film scholarship or to pursue doctoral study in cinema. The M.F.A. degree prepares graduates to work as independent producers, to assume creative professional roles within the film industry, or to teach at the college or university level.

Film and Television Department [ ]
School of Theater, Film, and Television [ ]

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University of California, Los Angeles
Department of Film and Television
Box 951622
Los Angeles CA 90095-1622

The UCLA Department of Film and Television is considered among the finest in the country and continuously monitors and revises its offerings in order to provide students with the best training possible for entrance into these demanding professions. The Department offers seven degree programs: the Bachelor of Arts in Film and Television; the Master of Fine Arts in four distinct professional areas: Production/Directing, Screenwriting, the Producers Program, Animation, and the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Critical Studies.

Students in all programs study the history and theory as well as the creative and technical aspects of both film and television, and may then proceed to advanced work and study in either medium and in whatever expressive form they prefer. The Department's purpose is to provide a scholarly, creative, and professional approach to the study of film and television, and to help each person discover his or her powers as an independent artist and communicator.

The Department of Film and Television's production and teaching facilities consist of three motion picture sound stages, a completely equipped animation lab, a scoring stage, a re-recording stage, thirty film editing rooms, mixing rooms, viewing rooms, and negative cutting rooms. Television facilities include three TV studios, a Master Control room, five video viewing rooms, two time-code rooms, ten video editing rooms, and a fully equipped remote van. In addition, there are seminar rooms, an Equipment Office, a darkroom, a title room, a film chain, and a sound effects library.

The UCLA Film and Television Archive is the largest collection of film and video holdings in the United States outside of the Library of Congress. The Archive collection of over 200,000 titles includes motion pictures from all film eras and television programs representing every aspect of American telecasting from 1946 to the present. Besides its internationally recognized preservation and restoration activities, the Archive presents more than 500 public programs each year in the James Bridges Theater, the Department's 276-seat motion picture theater. The Archive Research and Study Center provides additional access to Archive resources through its educational programs, research and consultation services, and publications; and student and public access to Archive materials through ninety on-campus viewing stations.

Alumni: Stephen Burum ASC, Francis Ford Coppola, Danny DeVito, Tim Robbins, Paul Schrader, Penelope Spheeris, Jeff Margolis

School of Cinema and Television
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University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0911

Film, Video and Computer Animation 213.740.3985
Peter Stark Producing Program 213.740.3304
Division of Screen and Television Writing 213.740.3303
Division of Critical Studies 213.740.2911
Division of Film and Video Production 213.740.2911

In the early 1980s, many of the school's most famous alumni and friends joined forces to fund a world-class film and television complex at USC. Their gifts enabled the school to build the following facilities:

The newly renovated Television Production Center, part of the Sony Media Center, encompasses three multi-camera stages, both off- and on-line editing rooms, a digital Betacam editing suite and a broadcast control-center that serves the campus and surrounding community.

The School of Cinema-Television has other facilities within the University Park Campus. The Cinema-Television Library, housed in Doheny Memorial Library, is the site of the Film and Television Study Center and the Warner Bros. Archive. In addition to its vast collection of books, journals, screenplays and periodicals, the library provides viewing access to an extensive collection of film and television titles, and houses studio records and personal papers relating to those films.

The Cinema-Television complex and the sophisticated equipment it contains constitute a comprehensive production facility. Each year, USC cinema students use these facilities to produce the equivalent of 25 feature-length films, near the output of any studio. A significant portion of the multi-million dollar cost of producing these films and video projects is absorbed by the School of Cinema-Television.

Within the school are five main areas of study:

The School of Cinema-Television continually strives to push the forward edge of technological experimentation and scholarly thought. Aspects of the curriculum range from very traditional scholarly paths to a new production curriculum, designed to keep pace with massive changes in entertainment media. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available in the school's Division of Critical Studies, Division of Film and Video Production and Division of Screen and Television Writing. The school also offers graduate degrees through the Peter Stark Producing Program and the Film, Video and Computer Animation Program.

The School of Cinema-Television at USC exists in the context of a fine research university and promotes excellence in both thought and implementation. A strong emphasis is placed on craft, but not at the expense of aesthetic and critical foundations. Students participate in courses beyond their core area of study, and they typically have the opportunity to take electives in other areas of the School of Cinema-Television and the university.

In addition to training new talent for the industry, the school serves as an incubator for new ideas, technologies and applications. The school's research and technology laboratories enable students and faculty to pursue a wide range of activities, including work with large-format computer animation, interactive and high-definition television, multimedia, "virtual reality" and advanced imaging techniques for special-effects, animation and graphics.

Alumni: George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, John Milius, Robert Zemekis, Randall Kleiser, Les Blank, Laura Ziskin, Ron Howard, John Singleton, Dan O'Bannon, Michael Lehman, Phil Joanou.

ASC alumni include:

Caleb Deschanel, ASC
Director/Director of Photography

Richard Edlund, ASC
Visual & Special Effects

Conrad Hall, ASC
Director of Photography

University of Texas at Austin
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University of Texas at Austin
College of Communication
Department of Radio-TV-Film
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas 78712

UT general information: 512.475.7348

Production facilities include four audio and radio production studios, two film sound stage/mixing facilities, four color television studios, and 24 video and film editing stations.

UT Austin offers a Bachelor's degree in Radio-Television-Film, which contains a specialized intensive track in media production. They also offer an MA and PhD in Media Studies, an MFA in Film and Television Production, an MA in Screenwriting, an MFA in Creative Writing jointly with the English and Theatre departments, and joint Masters programs with the LBJ School of Public Affairs, the Business School, the Institute of Latin American Studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies.

The research faculty interests include communication technology and policy, international communication, ethnic issues in communication, gender and sexuality issues, and critical and cultural studies of film and television. Our creative faculty specialties include cinematography, animation, documentary, feature, experimental, studio, single-camera, audio, interactive multi-media.

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